Letters & Opinion

21st Century China-Caribbean Ties Stronger Than Ever!

Recently, in response to an article by veteran Saint Lucian and Caribbean journalist Earl Bousquet on the Centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), many false statements were made in this newspaper about China’s internal and foreign affairs and its relations with Caribbean nations, five of which require clarification with real and unchallengeable facts.

China-Caribbean Cooperation and Assistance

Bilateral ties between China and the Caribbean in the modern era extend over five decades and Caribbean Governments and nations (CARICOM and OECS) have all come to know and experience, understand and appreciate that China-Caribbean cooperation isbased on mutual trust and consultation, to promote economic development and improve people’s livelihoods. Indeed, such cooperation has always been sincerely welcome by governments and people of the region.

China-Caribbean ties started in the decade of the 1970s with Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago and in the 1980s expanded to include OECS member-states. Since then, all nations with China ties have enjoyed fruitful mutually-beneficial relationships at all levels.

China-CARICOM ties took an upward trajectory and a great leap forward since 2013, when President Xi Jinping took office and visited Trinidad & Tobago for multilateral discussion with CARICOM leaders, following which China’s Caribbean engagements have increased, deepened and improved at bilateral and multilateral levels. President Xi earlier this year reaffirmed China’s continuing interest in engagement with the Caribbean in a telephone call to Guyana’s President Irfan Ali, members of his cabinet and representatives of the Guyana private sector, as the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties between the two nations approaches. President Xi,on July 14, 2021 again reiterated the importance China place on its Caribbean ties, during another direct telephone discussion with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

China’s role in the global fight against COVID-19 is also very highly appreciated by Caribbean nations and leaders. Despite the huge domestic demand and limited supply, China has supplied more than 480 million doses of vaccines to the international community – making it the largest supplier in the world. It’s provided vaccine assistance to nearly 100 countries from five continents, including Latin America and the Caribbean. China is also providing an initial 10 million doses to the World Health Organization (WHO) for use by its COVAX distribution.

Chinese vaccines indeed represented the first doses available to many developing countries and China has so far provided 165 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Latin American countries, which have been used effectively in CARICOM and OECS states likeAntigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. Chinese vaccines have also won a good reputation in the international community, with their safety and effectiveness widely recognized by more than 100 countries that have so far approved them. The WHO has added China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to the Emergency Use Listing and more than 30 leaders worldwide have taken vaccines Made in China.

In the Caribbean, the Chinese vaccine is the only one approved by the government of Trinidad and Tobago that allows for use by breastfeeding women. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the Chinese vaccine has proven its effectiveness and safety and will make positive contributions to the early realization of Herd Immunity there. Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley commended Chinese President Xi’s commitment of making Chinese COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, as it greatly contributes to equitable access to vaccines as strongly advocated by Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM — and that Trinidad and Tobago and China have stood together in solidarity and support in both morale and materials.

Caribbean leaders have also recognized the important vanguard role of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at home, on the global stage and in the region, as it celebrated its first century last month. Prime Minister Mia Mottley (also Leader of the ruling Barbados Labour Party) noted that the CPC is a political party with a glorious history of 100 years that is worthy of admiration and high praise, adding that the CPC has greatly improved the lives of the Chinese people, which also has lessons for other countries.

Prime Minister Rowley underlined the CPC’s exploration of the path to national prosperity and rejuvenation. Thepolitical leader of the Caribbean’s twin-island republic’sruling People’s National Movement (PNM) also said China has made hard-won achievements in its economic development, poverty alleviation, social progress and other areas.

Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, Speaker of Jamaica’s House of Representatives, said that under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups have developed the country into a major world power with firm determination and a spirit of unity.

The words of these CARICOM leaders speak louder than the shrills of those seeking to paint China-Caribbean ties in a negative light.

Truth About China and the Taiwan COVID-19 Vaccine Issue

Contrary to the false published claims accusing China of being a stumbling block in the way of Taiwan compatriots receiving vaccines, China has many times offered to donate vaccines to the island.

Heads of the Red Cross Society branches in neighboring Chinese cities Fuzhou and Xiamen recently expressed readiness to assist Taiwan compatriots, but the Mainland Affairs Council of Taiwan declined the offer. Recently too, many counties, cities and groups in the Taiwan region have been calling for early access to vaccines from the mainland and some institutions even announced that they “will” receive donations from the mainland.

Many well-known Taiwanese politicians and scholars (such as Hong Xiuzhu and Qiu Yi) have also gone to the mainland to get China vaccines.

In March 2020, Shanghai Fosun Pharma signed an agreement with the German BioNTech company to participate in the development of the mRNA new crown vaccine and has the exclusive commercial rights of the vaccine in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

In January 2021, the vaccine was approved for emergency use in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in February it was approved by the Macao Special Administrative Region Health Bureau.

Since the outbreak in Taiwan in May, counties, cities,enterprises and private organizations in the region o Taiwan have proposed to purchase BNT vaccines from Shanghai Fosun Pharma, which clearly stated at the time that it was also very willing to serve the vaccine to Taiwan compatriots and play an active role in the prevention and control of the epidemic on the island. But the DPP authorities again ignored the facts and falsely claimed the Chinese government was obstructing Taiwan’s purchase of vaccines. It was not until late June (2021) that they reluctantly agreed to TSMC, Hon Hai and the Everlasting Foundation to negotiate purchases with Fosun.

The Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group also issued an announcement on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on July 11 saying Fosun Industrial (the company’s subsidiary) had signed sales agreements for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines with TSMC, Hon Hai and Everlasting Foundation from Taiwan.

According to the agreement, Fosun Industrial will sell 10 million doses of the vaccine to the purchaser and the company will supply vaccines to Taiwan in accordance with the agreement and normal business rules, while it looks forward to helping Taiwan compatriots strengthen the prevention and control of the epidemic and return to normal life, as soon as possible.

All this demonstrates the Taiwan compatriots’ confidence in mainland vaccines and the PRC expressed — on many occasions –and China’sequal readiness to do our best to help them fight the virus. Unfortunately for our Taiwan patriots, however, the Taipei authorities turned a blind eye to the goodwill of the mainland.

Taiwan has been a part of China’s territory since ancient times and the PRC will always make the utmost effort and do everything that will serve the interests of our Taiwan compatriots.We also always hope that the people in Taiwan will get the much-needed vaccine sooner than later.

Lies about Coronavirus Origin-tracing

The referred response also deliberately misrepresented the issue of Coronavirus origin-tracing and highly politicized the issue, in pursuit of casting blame when cooperation is most needed. But here too, the Caribbean has also supported China’s opposition to politicization of the global pandemic.

The WHO has dispatched international expert teams to China three times, to conduct investigations and studies; and they conducted scientific assessments of the possibility of direct transmission of the coronavirus from a natural host and the ways the virus can be transmitted into populations through cold chain foods, intermediate hosts and laboratories.

The mission’s report clearly states that “A laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely”.

A series of studies have also shown that the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Brazil and many other countries were indeed affected by the virus long before the outbreak in China. The Wall Street Journal reported that as early as mid-December 2019, there were isolated cases of coronavirus infection on the west coast of the United States.A study by the National Cancer Institute (INT) in Italy also showed that the coronavirus was detected there since September 2019. Since then, more evidence has shown the corona virus may not have a single origin, as it broke out at multiple points in the world.

But contrary to efforts to poison the minds of Caribbean people, the region’s leaders are very much aware of what’s at stake and stand by China.

Indeed, in her telephone discussion with President Xi on July 14, Barbados Prime Minister Mottleynot only called for increased and expanded China ties with Latin America and the region, but also spoke out against politicization of COVID-19 origin-tracing and appreciated China’s positive contribution to promoting fair distribution of vaccines in developing countries.

The realities of Hong Kong today

Contrary to the twisted facts and obvious untruths contained in the publication, Beijing cares highly about Hong Kong and is ensuring the continued successful implementation of the “One Country, To Systems” policy. The Central Government in Beijing has been governing the Special Administrative Region (SAR) in accordance with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR and the PRC has ensured a true policy of “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”.A high degree of autonomy has been earnestly implemented and Hong Kong residents’ lawful rights and freedoms have been fully guaranteed according to law.

The National Security Law is to prevent, curb and punish crimes of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. It also maintains prosperity and stability and protects the lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong residents and protects the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the vast majority of Hong Kong residents, including freedom of the press.Since the law took effect nearly a year ago, Hong Kong has regained stability,global capital keeps flowing-in and foreign enterprises are more confident about Hong Kong’s business environment. The IMF, in its latest report, again recognized Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub, casting a vote of confidence in its growth prospects.

The hidden facts about Xinjiang

Here again, the published falsities fly in the face of reality, because contrary to the false claims there are loads of reports that expose the contained lies.

For example, in a recently-published academic report entitled Xinjiang – Understanding Complexity, Building Peace by Fabio Massimo Palandi, an acclaimed Italian scholar of international relations, he said he saw in Xinjiang the full religious freedom enjoyed by ethnic minority groups — including Uyghurs — and found no sign of the so-called allegations of “forced labour” and “genocide”. Instead, he pointed out that Western accusations on Xinjiang are unfounded.

Palandi said some Western think tanks, scholars and media have invented false reports, causing grave negative impacts through false reports packaged as “independent”, based on which some Western governments imposed groundless sanctions on Xinjiang. He also said the purpose of the propaganda is not to protect human rights in Xinjiang, but to suppress and contain China.

Meanwhile, in recent years Xinjiang’s social situation has been generally stable, economic development has achieved important results, people’s living standards have been significantly improved — and the international community (including the Caribbean) has made a fair evaluation of Xinjiang’s construction achievements. On June 22, at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Belarus delivered a joint statement on behalf of 67 countries, including Grenada, stressing that issues relating to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet are China’s internal affairs, opposing politically-motivated and groundless accusations against China based on disinformation and opposing interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights.

More than 20 countries also supported and echoed China’s position by making statements in their national capacity or co-signing a letter; and over 90 countries appealed for justice at the Human Rights Council, which not only constitutes support to China, but is also an effort to uphold basic norms governing international relations and international fairness and justice.

The lies behind “Debt Trap” Rumors

Here too, the packaged bundle of untruths sought to give a contrived impression that simply echoes the lies of those bent on blaming China for everything and distorting history to try to justify their misleading claims.

Contrary to the claims or China trapping poor countries into debt, the fact is that nations engaged in financial agreements with Beijing know that China’s loans and assistance to countries effectively help to set up their national infrastructure, promote economic development and improve social living conditions and people’s livelihood.

The PRC has long provided a large number of gratuitous aids, interest-free loans and concessional loans to the developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the South Pacific and the Caribbean, helping to build such infrastructure projects as railways, highways, ports, terminals, airports, hospitals, schools, stadiums and cultural centers,among other facilities that have greatly improved the basic conditions for the economic and social development of recipient countries, which have all been welcomed by recipient governments and peoples.

President Xi Jinping insists that on mankind’s journey in pursuit of happiness, no country or nation should be left behind. As such, we believe all countries and nations are entitled to equal development opportunities and rights and China will continue to uphold the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith — and contribute more to Caribbean countries’ development and rejuvenation.

Understanding China’s Democratic Political System

Finally, none of the above will be fully understood without a basic understanding of China’s history and the evolution of its democratic political culture and system.

Whether a political party or government is good or bad depends — first and foremost — on whether it can safeguard and develop the fundamental interests of the general public.

In 2020, over 39 million members of CPC fought on the front lines against the COVID-19 pandemic andthe vast majority of Chinese people strongly feel that living in China is the safest and happiest, with 95% saying they trust their government – the highest number worldwide.

China is also committed to an independent foreign policy of peace and the PRC grows, not by expansion or colonial plunder, but through the hard work of its people. China’s development also offers a new option for other countries and nations that want to speed-up their development, while preserving their independence.

The CPC has enabled the Chinese people to become masters of their country, their society and their own future and enabling them to move towards the goal of common prosperity.In the mid-19th century, hundreds of millions of Chinese were plunged into extreme poverty due to the foreign aggression and the decadence of the imperial dynasty. But since the founding of the PRC in 1949 — and especially since the reform and opening-up in the 1980s — Chinese people’s living standards have gradually improved; and by 2019, China’s GDP per capita exceeded US$10,000.

More than 770 million of China’s rural population living below the current poverty line have been raised from poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the global total over the same period, according to the World Bank. China has clearly won the battle against extreme poverty and achieved the poverty alleviation goal set on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a full ten years ahead of schedule. This has significantly reduced the world’s poor population and made a significant contribution towards realizing a better and more prosperous world.

In conclusion, truth always wins and lies only last for as long as it takes to expose them. The reality is that the world knows better and China is not seen by developing countries as the Caribbean countries know well that China’s ties with fellow developing countries are alwaysbased on mutual trust and consultation, to promote economic development and improve people’s livelihoods and nothing the prophets of doom claim or deliberately misrepresent can change the unchallengeable facts outlined above.

Zhengjie Liu
Representative of the PRC in Saint Lucia
Former Chinese Embassy
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

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